Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tri-City Dust Devils 7, Yakima Bears 0

August 31, 2008

When we drove up to Gesa Stadium in Pasco, Washington I expected it to be built in the shape of a pyramid. It was standard stadium shape with the exception of an interesting feature, visible at some distance, that Chris Mulick of the Tri-City Herald called on his blog the "Margarita Prentice Memorial Sun Shade." As Mulick points out in his post, Sen. Prentice is not dead, but he named the sun shade for the chair of the state Senate Ways & Means Committee, who two years ago helped secure funding for improvements, such as sun shades, at a number of minor league ballparks in the state, most of which Weisenheimer and his Sweetie, the scorer, have visited on our 2008 ballpark tour.

The shade's purpose is what you'd suspect: to prevent fans in the third-base stands from roasting to death. That's all well and good. However, on this last-day-of-August game, Weisenheimer noted that, as we sat in our seats behind third base, the sun was well to the first base side of the shade. We didn't roast, because it was breezy and cool, but we couldn't see much until the sun ducked behind the stands shortly after the game started. Still, it might be worth looking into getting a bigger shade! Tough budget year coming up, though.

Gesa is not a mis-spelling of a city in Egypt, it's actually a credit union serving the Tri-Cities. Only one real beef with the ballpark experience, beside the too-small sun shade, and that is that Gesa Stadium has one of those hollering announcers that make one suspect they're on meth, or borrowed from rasslin. Plus one minor beef. My Sweetie opines that "Dusty," the mascot of the Tri-City Dust Devils, "looks like a broken teacup." That's not a very scary mascot.

Fans at Gesa were chatty, as we found in Boise as well. My Sweetie's baseball shoes get noticed wherever we go, and that's always a conversation starter. We're also amazed at how many people think you're up to something when you're keeping score, probably advance scouts for another team or something. Or maybe some sort of blogger writing stuff only he will see. Also, why isn't there kettle corn at any of the parks? We haven't found any on this trip.

The game
I wrote the lead for the story about this game in the second inning. It was: We are diehards.

The Dust Devils scored seven runs against the Yakima Bears in the second inning, on six hits, two walks, and a Bear error. By the end of the frame, the game was nearly an hour old, by which time the previous night in Boise we were probably through five. I pictured us enduring a five-hour sloppy game, by the end of which we'd be among the 12 remaining fans sticking it out.

Happily, it didn't turn out that way. In fact, there was no more scoring, and the Dust Devils beat the Bears 7-0. Tri-City pitcher Sheng-An Kuo who, according to the game notes, had been "roughed up" in his previous start, against Spokane, for six earned runs on eight hits in two innings, was stellar. Kuo worked 7 1/3 innings and allowed just two hits while striking out nine. He was yanked after throwing 93 pitches without walking a batter. Nothing wrong with a complete game, though. J.R. Murphy finished up the two-hitter, fanning three of the final five outs and getting the other two on pop-ups.

Tri-City could have had more than their seven runs, as they stranded 10 runners, leaving the bases loaded in the third and the fifth. Yakima never got much going, only twice getting a runner as far as third base: once in the seventh and again in the eighth. The hurlers did a decent job after starter Ian Harrington was bounced in the second. The contest ended at a reasonable 9:55 p.m. I didn't have to use the diehards lead. Or lede, as the cool kids seem to be calling it these days.

After the game we had a brief chat with a gentleman and his young son, who thought us a little confused. I was wearing my Spokane Indians cap and a Mariners windbreaker. My Sweetie, the scorer, had on a Tacoma Rainiers jacket. None of those teams were playing. We explained our tour. Turns out the pair were on a quest of their own, a week-long trek to see six games in Washington. Not quite our "international" tour, but a nice trip anyway.

Onward to Yakima!

Box score

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